Friday, December 09, 2005

Friday's Fandango

"I want to make this a better and nicer country to live in."
- David Cameron on Today this morning.

The Today programme was unaccountably unable to find anyone to put the contrary point of view and who aspired to make this country a worse and more nasty place to live in. So no balance of opinion was presented. Poor show.


The silliest remark I heard yesterday was the Tories' statement that Dennis Skinner's outburst in the Commons was the kind of thing that puts people off politics.
Surely the exact opposite is the case.
For those who missed it, Dennis Skinner spoke about the coalfields and then said "the only thing that was growing then were the lines of coke in front of Boy George and the rest of them...."
This was a reference to the Shadow Chancellor George Osborne, of whom the News of the World published a photo taken at a party showing white powder on a table that may have been cocaine or may have been bicarbonate of soda that someone was taking for a dicky stomach. (that phrasing dictated by my legal team).
Being partial to puns, I quite enjoyed Dennis's combination of humour and abuse which is only what we enjoy daily in the great political cartoonists like Steve Bell. But it was unparliamentary and Dennis was expelled from the chamber. The only mystery was Dennis's assertion that because it had been in the News of the World it must be true.

Like a dormant volcano, Dennis doesn't erupt very often these days so when he does it is cause for celebration.
However, he has now virtually created a new constitutional convention at the State Opening of Parliament with his annual heckling of Black Rod when the latter summons MPs to the Lords for the Queen's Speech. After a series of intruders at Buckingham Palace, Dennis shouted "Did she lock the door behind her?"
On another occasion, he observed of Black Rod "I bet he drinks Carling Black Label."
I think his last one was "Has she brought Camilla with her?"

But his best interjections have occurred during debates over the years. At the height of the scandal over Cecil Parkinson's extra-marital affair, Parkinson was making a speech from the Government bench with one hand in his pocket. "Stop playing with yourself!" shouted Dennis.
Parkinson said afterwards that he didn't know what to do for the best. If he removed his hand from his pocket people would think Dennis's allegation was true. But if he kept his hand in his pocket everyone would be looking for signs of movement and not listening to his speech. But such difficult decisions are the essence of politics.

No sooner has the grief-fest over the death of wife abuser and drink-driver George Best mercifully subsided than we get a national Festival of Remembrance to mark the anniversary of the death of the cretinous John Lennon.
I could avoid most of this nonsense but for the fact that it has also infected Radio Four which claims to be an 'intelligent speech' station. Mini-tributes have been inserted between programmes and this morning that arch-reactionary the Chief Rabbi gave a eulogy to Lennon in his 'Thought For the Day'. That he was able to do so perhaps tells you a lot about Lennon.

I write this as someone who, as a thirteen year old, sat through three consecutive showings of A Hard Day's Night at my local cinema and, to the fury of my mother, cut my hair into a Beatles fringe.
At that same age, my intellectual hero was Bertrand Russell who, despite his advanced years had recently been carried off in a police van after protesting against the nuclear arms race.
I never confused the boy from Liverpool of modest talents and limited intellect with the philosopher, or vice versa. That so many intelligent people since then have taken seriously the arrogant and self-deluded garbage that poured from Lennon's mouth has never ceased to amaze me.

So, not for the first time, I give thanks for Julie Burchill, even though she goes slightly further than I would.
Asked by the Guardian about her recollections of Lennon's death, she said:
"I don't remember where I was but I was really pleased he was dead, as he was a wife-beater, gay-basher, anti-Semite and all-round bully-boy."


At 10:42 AM, Blogger Tony said...

I've always admired Mr Skinner, but his puritan and temperance brand of socialism does go against my own more hedonist tendencies.

Memorably, during the Thatcher era miners' strike, he donated most of his salary to miners' welfare, subsisting only on what the average miner was getting.

I also remember him calling for the closure of all licenced premises in the Palace of Westminster, saying that if any of his constituents turned up drunk for work, they'd be sacked. Quite right, of course, but not very much fun.

Regarding Lennon, I agree 100%. "He wrote some nice songs" would just about sum the whole thing up.

At 8:56 PM, Blogger Wyndham said...

Burchill once wrote a brilliant deconstruction of Lennon's song Imagine, starkly comparing it to his lifestyle which included an entire apartment he rented just to keep all his fur coats.

And McCartney was always the better songwriter anyway.

At 9:46 PM, Blogger cello said...

Dennis Skinner is part of the tiny band who are the only true opposition Blair has, and is therefore very precious.

Lennon? Mmm. Quite liked a few songs (though *not* Imagine, which could be David Cameron's anthem). However, I do think he was more talented than Julie Burchill, and I don't think anyone's death is ever a cause for joy.

At 1:13 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Tony: don't forget that Skinner wasn't too puritan to have an affair, as reported in all good tabloids.

wyndham: I agree that McCartney was the more talented. I'm sure Lennon knew that which is why he slagged him off so much.
Were Lennon's coats real fur? Macca wouldn't have liked that.

cello: generally, a person's death should not be a cause for joy but there are exceptions, most obviously Hitler. I'm not suggesting Lennon was in that category, of course. I think Burchill's remark was intended as a metaphorical slap round the face to shake people out of their deluded idolatry of Lennon.
And if I had to choose between Lennon's collected works and the collected works of Burchill, I'd choose the latter every time, even though I often strongly disagree with her. So for me, she is definitely more talented than Lennon, though I don't see that as a rare achievement.


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